1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition
In the 21st century, the United States issues dozens of commemorative stamps each year. At the beginning of the 1900s, however, commemoratives were still a relatively new concept, and they were produced only in conjunction with major events.
Such was the case with the five stamps issued to complement the 1904 World’s Fair, better known to stamp collectors as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The Fair was held in St. Louis, where France had a century earlier formally transferred control of Upper Louisiana to the U.S.1
The stamps went on sale on April 30, the first day of the Exposition.2 Robert Livingston (1¢), Thomas Jefferson (2¢), and James Monroe (3¢) were all involved in the purchase of Louisiana from France: Jefferson as president, and Livingston and Monroe as the U.S. negotiators.
The 5¢ stamp pictures William McKinley, who signed the law authorizing the Fair, while the 10¢ design features a map of the United States with the area included in the Louisiana Purchase highlighted.